A critical assessment of officially reported chagas disease surveillance data in Mexico

Ellen M. Shelly, Rodolfo Acuna-Soto, Kacey C. Ernst, Charles R. Sterling, Heidi E. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective. Chagas disease, a disease caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, disproportionately affects poor people throughout Latin America. In Mexico, assessments of officially reported burden have not been previously reported. To evaluate discontinuity between surveillance data and data from other sources, we used data from the Mexican Ministry of Health to describe the distribution of reported Chagas disease over time in Mexico and compare it with estimates from the literature. Methods. We summarized age and sex differences for Chagas cases and mortality for 1995–2013 and 1982–2010, respectively. We examined the spatial distribution of Chagas disease over time with respect to disease burden. We further compared officially reported figures with estimates from the literature. Results. Among 6,494 officially reported cases, rates of Chagas disease were highest in adults aged 25–44 years (47.3%). Mortality was highest in adults aged $45 years (423/495, 85.5%). The data indicated increasing temporal trends for incidence and mortality. The greatest burden occurred in southern states, with increasing spatial distribution over time. Fewer than 900 cases and 40 deaths were officially reported annually, in contrast to estimates from the literature of approximately 69,000 new cases and 25,000 deaths annually. Conclusion. While increasing trends in officially reported data have been observed, large discrepancies in case estimates compromise our understanding of Chagas disease epidemiology. Reported cases based on current practices are not enough to correctly assess the Chagas disease burden and spatial distribution in Mexico. Understanding the true epidemiology of this disease will lead to more focused and successful control and prevention strategies to decrease disease burden.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-66
Number of pages8
JournalPublic Health Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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